MELBOURNE, AFP: REPORT – UN Asia Pacific Meeting & Public Forum on Palestine 25Jun09 June 25, 2009

Jakarta,Indonesia                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  8 – 10 June 2009

The United Nations Asian and Pacific Meeting on the Question of Palestine and the United Nations Public Forum in support of the Palestinian People were held on 8-10 June 2009 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The  presentation of the talk given by Sonja Karkar from Australians for Palestine/Women for Palestine at the United Nations Public Forum on 10 June 2009 can be viewed below. Unfortunately, the size of this video meant the quality had to be compromised for viewing on the website, but clear and undistorted copies are available on DVD.

vid-goClick on video to watch

An AFP/WFP report of the three days’ meeting in Jakarta follows with links to the United Nations reports and summaries of the speakers’ talks and also photos.

In 2006, Women for Palestine (WFP) and Australians for Palestine (AFP) had been first invited to attend as NGO observers of the UN Asia Pacific Meeting and Public Forum held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and four of us attended – Sonja Karkar, Dora McPhee, Nasser and Moammar Mashni.  Claire O’Connor from Adelaide’s Australian Friends of Palestine (AFOPA) joined us as well, making the Australian contingent a noticeable addition to the three days of meetings – much probably due to our outspokenness and challenging questions.

It was some surprise when WFP/AFP was again invited to the 2009 meeting in Jakarta but this time to make a formal contribution to expand on the work being done in Australia.  The opportunity could, we thought, be an advantage by connecting us with like-minded people and inspire us for the challenges ahead.  Our team – Sonja Karkar, Dora McPhee and Nasser Mashni – was complemented by Bassam Dally from AFOPA.

The theme of the meeting was ““Strengthening international consensus on the urgency of achieving a two-State solution”.  In light of President Obama’s address only days earlier, the topic seemed particularly relevant although we had plenty of misgivings as to how any consensus could be achieved without calling Israel to account for its continued violations of international law and UN resolutions.

While the opening statements of the various dignitaries were all committed to seeing the Palestinians achieve an independent, viable, sovereign state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, the sticking point remained Israel’s refusal to end its colonial expansionism and apartheid policies and practices.

Israel’s horrific attacks on Gaza and the inevitable consequences of punishing an entire population under siege cast an ominous shadow over everything and the appalling conditions under which people live in Gaza were raised time and again.  The only note of optimism was the Obama administration’s interest in seeing a negotiated settlement as a priority and its willingness to engage early, quickly and firmly.  Perplexing to many though was Israel’s refusal to halt illegal settlement building, despite Obama’s clear call for an end to these activities.  Also, Israel’s provocative acts with regard to East Jerusalem were raised making a peaceful solution remote as ever.  Netanyahu’s speech declaring an undivided Jerusalem as capital of a Jewish state will most likely put paid to any hopeful ideas of negotiating a just solution on Netanyahu’s watch.

The enormous daily difficulties the Palestinians constantly have to combat were made apparent when a statement was read from Abdel Rahim Malouh, a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO who had been refused his right to travel and attend the meeting by the Israeli authorities.

Finding a solution through the application of international law seemed logical and fair and was routinely stated, but running parallel was what one speaker referred to as a “pragmatic peace” and this seemed to focus rather more on finding a way to let Israel off the hook than to hold it to account.  That certainly suggested a severely compromised two-state solution in which the Palestinians would once again have to make all the concessions to their own dire detriment.

The paper given by Sonja Karkar  – “Palestine: The Global Ripple Effect includes Australia” – was intended to show the problems we face in Australia with mobilising public opinion and how important it is to link with international campaigns and initiatives to alert people to the changing realities that have brought so much suffering to the Palestinians over 61 years and to bring pressure to bear on Israel to end its occupation and apartheid policies and practices. It concluded with real apprehension about the feasibility of a two-state solution while Israel is pushing through a changing set of realities in its own permanent favour.  Under such conditions the work of solidarity is more pressing than ever before.

You can download the full transcript of the talk here KARKAR – UN paper

Throughout the three days, the Australian contingent pressed for answers on some of the more provocative issues raised, particularly when boycotts, divestments and sanctions seemed to be sidelined rather than highlighted as legitimate, nonviolent means to end Israel’s stranglehold on Palestinian lives.

The benefits of attending this meeting were once again underscored by what we have been able to learn from others working for the same ends in all regions of the world, while the views evoking concerns and disagreements made us realise just how important it is to engage and be pro-active at every opportunity.

Summaries of each of the speakers’ papers can be accessed from the UN websites, see below.

United Nations Report on United Nations Asia Pacific Meeting on the question of Palestine hears expert opinions on international efforts to achieve peace GA/PAL/1129:

United Nations Report on “Civil Society makes Voices heard during United Nations public Forum in support of the Palestinian people” GA/PAL/1132:

- SK








IMG_0945 copy 1





If you liked this article, please consider making a donation to Australians for Palestine by clicking on the PayPal link
Thank You.
Bookmark and Share

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address